Farmers slam soil plans

EAST MIDLAND farmers have slammed soil management plans suggested as cross compliance conditions.

Proposals to force farmers to draw up soil management plans are “an affront to good husbandry and stewardship”, said National Farmers Union regional food and farming adviser, Simon Fisher.

“The long term fertility and productivity of soil is uppermost in all farmers‘ husbandry of their land,” said Mr Fisher.

“This may be justified for fragile and “at risk” soils, but not across the board.”

The regional NFU office has called for common sense to prevail in its submission to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs consultation on cross compliance.

By far the most unpopular planned measure, according to East Midland farmers, is the 2m uncultivated margin next to arable fields, proposed to protect field margin habitats.

This measure should only be included in the new Entry Level Scheme, they said.

“It has no place in cross compliance,” added Mr Fisher.

“It has also caused confusion as there are additional proposals about set-aside strips next to sensitive living habitats such as water courses and hedges.”

Mr Fisher urged DEFRA to keep the cross-compliance conditions simple to follow and easy to implement on farm.

“We don‘t need an over-bureaucratic approach to this with inspectors crawling all over farmland looking for needles in a haystack,” he concluded.

The detailed comments have been sent to NFU headquarters and will also be submitted direct to DEFRA by NFU East Midlands regional director, Jack Ward.